Netherlands's Public Diplomacy Efforts
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Culture and Public Diplomacy As the world becomes a smaller place and interdependence increases, the growing importance of culture in Dutch foreign policy is reflected in its use to help achieve political and social goals. Besides raising the Dutch cultural profile through the arts, cultural policy fosters appreciation of diversity in multicultural societies.
To present Dutch policy properly abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also investing in public diplomacy. By communicating in a wide array of media, the Ministry ensures that the Dutch cultural profile abroad positively reflects the society’s diversity and dynamism. The government can also improve the Netherlands’ image by being a good host to the international organisations established in the Netherlands, such as the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
International Cultural Policy International cultural policy is an integral part of Dutch foreign policy and helps to raise the profile of the Netherlands abroad. In addition, to helping to promote Dutch culture abroad, international cultural policy also helps to promote a rich and vibrant cultural life in the Netherlands through cooperation and exchange.
The Netherlands Culture Fund 2005-2008 The Dutch government has provided additional funding for international cultural policy since 1997. Over the 2005-2008 period, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allocated 9,676,000 euros for 2005 and 8,776,000 euros per year from 2006. The funds come from the Homogenous Budget for International Cooperation (HGIS), and are also known as the Netherlands Culture Fund. The budget is to be used for new activities and ongoing obligations.
The Netherlands Culture Fund will be deployed in four key areas: 1. the Netherlands as a cultural free haven 2. regional priorities 3. common cultural heritage 4. large-scale cultural events
Service Centre for International Cultural Activities The Service Centre for International Cultural Activities (SICA) was set up in 1999 to assist cultural organisations with their international activities. Since then the SICA has established itself as an independent information and co-ordination centre for organisations involved in all kinds of cultural disciplines, both within the Netherlands and abroad.
What the SICA does SICA is a guide for international cultural traffic, explaining international policies on culture and providing advice on activities, funding possibilities, networks and such practical issues as entry visas and work permits. In addition, together with the cultural funds and institutes, SICA contributes to Dutch art and culture by developing and coordinating programmes that reach beyond the specific sectors in both the Netherlands and elsewhere. By bringing relevant issues to the agenda and helping develop ideas in close collaboration with the funds and institutes, SICA plays an instrumental role in Dutch international cultural policy.
Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments Cultural policy in the Netherlands is based on the premise that the state should distance itself from value judgements on art and science. Artistic development has, therefore, been the result of the activities of private citizens and a large number of cultural foundations. Over the years, in addition to being the the largest patron for public art and culture, the government has gradually assumed the role of moderator of cultural activities. A Ministry for Art and Culture has been in existence since 1945. Until ten years ago, political responsibility lay in the hands of ministers. In 1994, the political responsibility for arts and cultural affairs was given to a State Secretary, together with media affairs.
Until the 1970s, Dutch society was characterised by “pillarisation”. Different social groups, or pillars – liberal, socialist, catholic, protestant – expressed their ideology via their own means of transmission, including specialised newspapers or broadcasting channels and amateur art organisations. This development, however, had little direct effect on professional artistic life.
In the 1960s, the ideological pillars gradually became less important in Dutch society. In order to support as many different individual expressions of culture as possible the government started to subsidise works based on new criteria – quality. The definition of quality was left to advisory committees. The goal was to achieve a nationwide cultural infrastructure to host a cultural supply of a rather standardised quality. To this end, the government changed the nature of its financing of arts and cultural supply from a temporary to a more permanent basis. Municipalities were involved in building local facilities.
The economic stagnation of the early 1980s meant that the government had to reconsider its tasks in various fields, including culture. Two movements began in the field of cultural policy: on the one hand, the government continued to fund cultural institutions that could guarantee high artistic quality and professionalism. On the other hand, the state aimed at keeping public spending within specific boundaries. A question mark was placed against the reliance of cultural institutions on public funding when budget funding replaced operating subsidies. Institutions were now given the possibility to acquire extra earnings and their dependence on subsidies was reduced. At the end of this period, the government undertook to prepare a cultural policy plan every four years.
The 1990s witnessed a change in the attitude of the Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Culture, later becoming the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in 1994. Instead of providing across-the-board funding to cultural organisations, the government started to offer financial incentives. Cultural organisations were encouraged to become more independent financially and to look at their market, i.e. their audiences. They were particularly called upon to cater for the needs of a new, young audience and to an increasing population of ethnic minorities. In addition to the tasks of the state, private initiative and private funding were welcomed.
As a result of economic recession, a relatively long period of gradual and general growth in the state budget for culture and media ended in 2004. Increasing and decreasing budgets have been announced simultaneously: the budgets for cultural heritage and cultural education will increase slightly until 2008; the budget for the performing arts will at best remain stable. The funding for so called ‘support organisations’ (documentation, research, mediation, professional services etc.) in the field of the arts and culture have been reduced by 10% (i.e. euro 5-6 million). Public broadcasting budgets will be reduced substantially; starting in 2006 with a budget cut of euro 60-80 million.
Main elements of the current cultural policy According to the Cultural Policy Act (Special Purpose Funding), the Ministry of Science, Culture and Education is obliged to present a policy plan every four years. This policy plan reviews all foreseen and completed cultural policy activities. The aim of this planning system is to impose a rational organisation on issuing grants and subsidies. According to the government, the financing system allows art and cultural institutions to adopt long-range programmes in the knowledge that they have sufficient financial support. The State Secretary is responsible for creating conditions conducive to maintaining, developing, disseminating (socially and geographically) cultural expression or expanding it in any other way. The State Secretary is guided in this task by considerations of quality and variety.
Cultural institutions wishing to apply for a structural subsidy for four years (within the cultural policy period) are required to submit an application a year before the start of a new cultural policy period. The four-year plan is expected to determine a series of substantive goals for the coming period as well as make arrangements for an evaluation of the past. Each plan is accompanied by a budget (income and expenditure).
In November 2003, a policy document for the period 2004 to 2007 was published by Ms Medy van der Laan, State Secretary of Culture in the second government of Prime Minister Balkenende (a coalition of Christian Democrats, Liberals, and Democratic Liberals) and at the time a member of the Democratic Liberals (D66). Her 2003 policy document, entitled "More than the Sum", indicates no major changes from a political point of view. Existing elements of cultural policy that had been in place for some time have been continued, such as the Cultural Outreach Action Plan, the aim of which is to involve more people in culture, especially new audiences such as immigrants and the young. "More than the Sum" contains three main cultural policy objectives: (1) less bureaucracy in support for arts and culture, (2) more connection and interaction in cultural life; (3) reinforcement of the cultural factor in society.
Financing of Culture Public expenditure for culture has more than doubled since the 1980s, from euro 1 168 million in 1985 to euro 2 603 in 2003. From 1999 to 2003 (the most recent data available) this expenditure rose by 32%. Due to a booming economy during that period, all layers of government spent more money on culture. Public spending for funding performing arts venues increased by 54% (from euro 233 million to euro 359 million), for historic buildings and sites by 36% (from euro 178 million to euro 243 million). Museums received 27% more public funds (euro 291 million to euro 372 millions) and funding for performing arts companies rose by 18% (from euro 228 million to euro 270 million).
These increases came to an end in 2004. It was proposed in the coalition agreement of the present government to decrease the culture budget of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science by euro 16 million in 2005: from euro 761 million in 2004 to euro 745 million in 2005. As a consequence of the budget debate in the parliament, the budget cut was restricted to euro 6 million. Moreover additional funding of euro 62 million has been made available for policy priorities such as digitization of cultural heritage, arts education, and housing of museums and renewal of public libraries.
- Capital - Amsterdam
- Population - 16,491,461 (July 2006 est.)
- Government – Constitutional Monarchy
- Queen Beatrix
- Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
Radio Netherlands is the Dutch international public broadcasting service. The radio and television broadcasts and websites provide news, information and culture to millions of people around the world. Its mission is to:
"Make a contribution, on behalf of and for the benefit of The Netherlands, towards a better informed world by a combination of independent journalism and other media services."
The mission has four chief purposes:
To provide an international audience with information about Dutch society, opinions, visions and policies, as well as to support the interests of the Netherlands. To facilitate an international podium for themes which are of importance to the Netherlands, Europe and the world. To serve as a source of information for Dutch people living or travelling abroad. To serve as a source of expertise and knowledge to foreign media, especially in the area of Dutch/European developments, ideas and opinions. Radio Netherlands broadcasts in Dutch, English, Spanish, Papiamentu, Sarnami, Indonesian, Portuguese and French. It takes into account the information needs of different target groups and the media situation in various regions.
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Produces worldwide radio broadcasts in nine languages: Dutch, Papiamentu, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia, Arabic, French and Sarnami. Is a production partner in the international Dutch-language television channel BVN-TV. Regularly produces programmes in co-production with other international services, including BBC World Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Republik Indonesia, SBS Australia and US National Public Radio. Some of these productions are in other languages. Manages the distribution of more than 270 television programmes and films about the Netherlands. Enables foreign music lovers to share in what the Netherlands has to offer in terms of classical music, jazz, world music, pop and rock music. Maintains international internet portals on Dutch themes and developments in Dutch society. Also incorporates an international training institute for journalism and the media.